This coming Sunday is an interesting day for Japanese fight fans who get three shows across the country. The most notable show of the day is Shizuoka, packed with prospects, whilst the other two shows are both at Korakuen Hall as part of the East Japan Rookie of the Year.
FujisanMesse, Fuji, Shizuoka, Japan
The show we like the most of the three is the show from Shizuoka, which features a bunch of notable prospects, many of whom are tipped to win titles over the next few years.
The most notable of the prospects on the show is the brilliantly talented Rentaro Kimura (4-0, 3), who takes on a really tough bout foe here as he battles the heavy handed Yoji Saito (3-1-2, 3). We've loved watching Kimura so far, and he does look like a very, very special talent who can do it all in the ring, but he has been caught a few times in the past and we suspect his team have put this bout together to give him a genuine chin check, with Saito being a genuine brute in the ring. This will be a battle between Kimura's skills, speed and movement, and Saito's power, strength and aggression and it should make for a genuinely brilliant contest.
Another major prospect on this card is Kimura's stablemate Tsubasa Murachi (7-1, 3), who looks to continue to move his career forward as he takes on Yuto Nakamura (11-6-1, 8). The talented Murachi has been rebuilding well since a 2019 loss to Froilan Saludar, winning his last 3 by decision, and it certainly seems that that brutal KO loss has seen him fighting in a more safety first style that could end up really being a great change for his career, and longevity in the sport. Nakamura on the other hand is now world beater, but he is better than his record suggests and will looking to get his career back on track following a TKO loss in December to Ryo Akaho, in a bout that never really made much sense. At his best Nakamura is a good Super Flyweight and he should ask questions of Murachi, but not be a real threat to him.
Another very highly regarded prospect on this card is second generation fighter Kento Hatanaka (11-0, 9), the son of former world champion Kiyoshi Hatanaka, who looks to fight for the first time since beating Roland Jay Biendima in February 2020. Sadly Hantanaka's bout appears to be more of a tick over fight than a really competitive one as he takes on the limited Daisuke Sudo (7-7-3). Given lengthy break from action this is ideal to help Hatanaka shake some ring rust, but it really is a shame that his career has been on the back burner since the pandemic began to affect boxing in Japan.
One final touted prospect here is Narumi Yukawa (2-0, 1), a sparring partner of Kimura's and a man with a great story of redemption following an criminal issue before he got the chance to begin his professional career. He's in a really good match up on this show as he takes on Yuji Awata (12-8-1, 5), in what is arguably the most well balanced of the bouts with prospects, outside of Kimura's. Awata is no world beater but he's a very competent domestic level fighter and we suspect Yukawa will want to shine, but will have to work hard here.
It's also worth noting that Renataro Kimura's cousin Tentaro Kimura (6-0-2) is also on this card, as he takes on Satoru Hoshiba (7-5, 2). Kimura, although unbeaten, isn't regarded as a prospect in the same way that his cousin is, but is a talent and Danji Suruga, his promoter, does speak very highly of him, and his talent. Hoshiba's record is very misleading, but he's aggressive, he comes to fight, and he could be a real thorn in the side for Kimura here. Kimura is the favourite, but we suspect he will be asked real questions from the aggression and pressure of Hoshiba.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
The first of the Rookie of the Year cards starts at 11:30am and features a total of 8 bouts, all 4 rounders. We're not going to take a look at all of them but there are some have caught the eye.
One of those worthy of some attention will see Ryugo Yanagibori (4-2, 1) take on the amazingly named Scorpion Kintaro (2-0, 2), who we really do think might be a Mortal Kombat fan. The 27 year old Yanagibori made his debut in 2018 and and has been stopped in both of his losses, but is coming into this bout with a recent win over Yuki Aizawa, a win that secured his place in this stage of the Rookie if the Year. Kintaro on the other had debuted in April, and has scored two quick wins, but this will be the first time he's facing a fighter with some professional experience.
In a bout at Featherweight novice fighter Daisuke Yoshikawa (1-0) will take on heavy handed 32 year old Kiyoharu Nunozaki (4-0, 3), in what should be an explosive encounter. Interestingly Yoshikawa is just 5'6" and will be giving up 4" here to Nunozaki, who will be the bigger man, the more experienced man and the heavier handed.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
The second Rookie of the Year card, which will take place from 5:30PM, is a show with 6 bouts on it, including 3 at Welterweight. On this card there are a couple of debutants that we're going to be focusing on.
One of the debutants is 28 year old Sarimanu Suzuki (0-0), who takes on 29 year old Yusaku Minami (2-2, 2). Whilst we're interested to see how Suzuki fares it's worth noting that Minami has been a stop or be stopped fighter, with his bouts never getting past round 3. Suzuki will know about Minami's history, and will be looking to make the most of Minami's questionable chin, whilst looking to also avoid his power.
Another debutant we'll be interested in seeing is 22 year old Middleweight hopeful Ryuya Kusamura (0-0) who takes on the limited, but experienced, Kazuki Ikeya (1-4). Given how few Middleweights there are in Japan it's always good to see novice Middleweights and we're hoping that Kusamura can make a mark going forward.
Aioi Hall, Kariya, Aichi, Japan
This coming Sunday attention turns to Aichi for the next show from the Midori Gym. Although not a huge show it does feature two interesting bouts, both of which are rematches and should be entertaining, and it also features two novice bouts that we want to quickly talk about.
The main event is one of the two rematches and will see the exciting Tom Mizokoshi (7-2-1, 4) take on the all action Satoru Hoshiba (7-4, 2) for the vacant Japanese Youth Super Bantamweight title. The talented Mizokoshi stopped Hoshiba in 2 rounds when the men first clashed, but was in trouble before Hoshiba walked on to one, and failed to clear his head before the referee jumped in. It's fair to say Hoshiba, who is all about pressure and coming forward, will be after revenge here. As for Mizokoshi he will be looking to repeat his win over Hoshiba, and bounce back from a brutal loss last year to Hiroyuki Takahara. We expect genuine exciting action here, and a solid gelling of styles. For those interested in a deep dive on this bout, our preview of it can be read here Mizokoshi and Hoshiba face off for Japanese Youth title!
The second rematch will see 2019 All Japan Minimumweight Rookie of the Year finalist Takumi Chono (6-1, 4) rematch Takefumi Higashi (5-9, 1). These two clashed last year and Chono mowed throw Higashi in 89 seconds. With that in mind we don't see this as a competitive one, but Chono's style is a really fun to watch one, and he is all about aggression and power. Higashi will likely come up short here, but it would be a genuine surprise to see him blown away quickly again as he is usually a very durable opponent and had only been stopped once in his previous 8 losses.
Lower down the card we'll see Japanese-Brazilian Felipe Do Prado (0-1) seek his first professional win, as he takes on the debuting Shota Iwanaga (0-0) and we'll also see the wonderfully named Judgement Aizu (0-1) take on Shinsuke Nishii (1-0, 1) in another novice match up.
This coming Sunday is a great one for fight fans in Osaka Prefecture, with two shows in both Osaka City, thanks to a stacked Green Tsuda show and Rookie of the Year show.
EDION Arena Osaka, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
We'll start with the Green Tsuda card, which features 5 bouts we want to talk about and is the card with the name value.
The main event here will see former Japanese Welterweight champion Ryota Yada (20-6, 17) take on veteran Yuichi Ideta (13-15-1, 7) in an 8 round Welterweight bout. Yada, is eying up an OPBF title fight in the new year, and will be looking to shine here in what should be an easy win for the "Nanaiwa Terminator". For him this will be his second bout since his 2019 epic against Yuki Beppu, which saw Beppu climb off the canvas numerous times to stop Yada in round 10 of a thriller. The 36 year old Ideta really isn't expect to be much of a threat here, especially given that he has gone almost 10 years without a win, going 0-12-1 in his last 13. This is a clear showcase for Yada to shine in.
Another former Japanese champion expecting to pick up an easy win here is former Japanese Super Flyweight champion Takayuki Okumoto (23-9-4, 11), who lost the title in 2019 to Kenta Nakagawa. The 29 year old Okumoto will be looking to bounce back from that loss as he takes on 22 year old Akio Furutani (8-4, 3). At his best Okumoto is a solid fighter, not spectacular but a very solid one, and one we expect to be hovering in and around the domestic title scene for a while. Furatani on the other hand is something of an unknown quantity. He back his career 4-4 but he really kicked on since a 2018 loss to Yoshiki Minato and has won his last 4 in a row, and looked progressively better, especially last time out with Keisuke Nakayama. This could be, potentially, a banana skin for Okumoto.
One of our favourite Japanese prospects will be on this card defending his JBC Youth Super Flyweight title, in what will be his last defense before he stops being considered a "youth" fighter. That man is defending champion Toshiki Shimomachi (12-1-2, 8), who looks to defend his title against 23 year old challenger Satoru Hoshiba (7-4, 2). We have been really impressed by Shimomachi in recent performance and he has become a wonderfully talented boxer, with a counter puncher's mindset, and we expect to see him fighting for senior titles in the next year or two. Hoshiba on the other hand hasn't impressed in the same way, but has been getting valuable rounds recently and his last 2 bouts will have prepared him well for this bout. Interestingly these two men fought in the 2017 Rookie of the Year, with Shimomachi taking a majority decision over Hoshiba, and Hoshiba will clearly be wanting to avenge that loss as well as taking the title from Shimomachi. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Shimomachi looks to make final defense as he takes on Hoshiba for the second time!
Arguably the standout bout on the show will see former multi-time world champion Katsunari Takayama (31-8-0-1, 12) clash with former world title challenger Reiya Konishi (17-2, 7). Originally we were supposed to see this bout in November, before it cancelled due to Konishi receiving a positive Covid19 test and then he paid for testing himself which stated that he wasn't infected. Sadly the issues with Covid19 delayed the bout, before the teams quickly re-organised it and the bout got added tot his show. Given the styles of the two men, who are both high energy fighters who throw a lot of leather, this should be a spectacular battle of wills, though we do wonder what's left in the tank of the 37 year old Takayama.
An easy one to over-look on this show will be a match up between the touted Jinki Maeda (5-0, 3) and the once beaten Kaito Okubo (5-1, 2). The unbeaten Maeda won the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2019, beating Kyonosuke Kameda in the final, and impressed back in August when he stopped Arashi Iimi in 2 rounds, in what was a very impressive and eye catching performance. Okubo on the other hand is a 23 year old who is very tall and rangy and has some momentum of his own coming into this bout, with back to back stoppage wins. We rate Maeda highly, but this certainly looks like a genuine test for the unbeaten 24 year old.
EDION Arena Osaka, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
In Osaka we'll find out who will represent West Japan in the All Japan final next year, as we get the penultimate bout in this year's Rookie of the Year. In total there are 12 bouts scheduled for the event, but as is typical with Rookie of the Year we've picked a handful of the most interesting match ups to look at.
At Featherweight we'll get a good looking bout between 22 year olds as Kakeru Mio (5-2, 3) clashed with Hikaru Fukunaga (7-1, 4). Coming in to this it's easy to feel that Fukunaga should be favoured, but he's certainly not looked unbeatable on his route to becoming the Western Japan champion earlier this year and his competition has, for the most part, been very inexperienced. Mio on the other hand has lost 2 of his last 4 but is dangerous and will likely look to jump on Fukunaga at the first sign of weakness.
The Welterweight bout has the best name on the show, as Bigbaby Okamoto (2-0, 1) takes on Hiroya Nojima (4-1, 2). The 26 year old Okamoto made his debut in September, with a narrow decision win, but impressed last time out, stopping Yusa Toyonaka. Nojima on the other hand has been a pro since early 2019 and began his career with 3 wins before a slip up in 2019 against Homare Yasui. Nojima will be hoping experience pays off, whilst Okamoto will be looking to make the most of his power and strength.
Sadly there is only one clash between fighters sporting 100% winning records and that comes at Middleweight where 29 year old Katsuhiro Nakata (4-0, 3) takes on 26 year old Norifumi Hayakawa (2-0, 2). The 6'1" Nakata began his career in 2018 with 2 stoppage wins, before taking well over a year out before returning for this Year's Rookie of the Year. He has impressed since returning to the sport and looks like a dangerous big guy, by Japanese standards. Hayakawa on the other hand began his professional campaign in August and has just 2 rounds to his name. We expect this to become a wild and crazy shoot out for a place in the All Japan final.
As well as the action in Japan we're also set for some other action. This includes a bout from Tanzania which will see local fighter Cosmas Cheka (24-13-6, 5) take on Filipino slugger Alvin Lagumbay (12-5-1, 10), in a battle for a light regarded UBO title. With 13 losses to his name Cheka is certainly no world beater, but the 25 year old Lagumbay hasn't impressed since his 2018 upset win over Keita Obara, and has now lost 3 of his last 6. Lagumbay will be a threat, but we suspect his ambition has gone and he'll end up losing a decision here.
There is also set to be a show in India, but this is very, very low level stuff and there's not a single bout of any note on the show, sadly.